Italian Christmas strudel

Italian Christmas strudel filled with figs and nuts.
Italian Christmas strudel filled with figs and nuts. Photo: Marina Oliphant

This is my version of buccellato, the beautiful fig and spice-filled pastry ring made in Sicilian pasticcerias and homes as Christmas nears.


250g dried figs

100ml marsala or cream sherry

75g raisins

75g walnuts, finely chopped

75g almonds, finely chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves or allspice, ground

75g dark chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup honey

150g unsalted butter

10 sheets filo pastry

Icing sugar for dusting


In a pot, cover the figs with water and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and allow the figs to swell and get plump (about 10 minutes). Drain and chop into small pieces. Put into a bowl with the marsala. Add the raisins, walnuts, almonds and lemon zest. Combine with the cinnamon, cloves or allspice and chocolate. In a pot, warm the honey and pour into the fig mixture. Use a wooden spoon to combine ingredients.

Melt the butter. Lay out one pastry sheet and brush with melted butter. Lay another pastry sheet over the top and brush again with butter. Continue this until you have five layers of pastry. Spread half the mixture over the sheet and roll into a long log shape. Place on a large, greased baking tray and bend into a half-circle. Do the same with the rest of the pastry sheets and mixture and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20 mins.

Serve either hot or cold with ice-cream and dusted with icing sugar.